Both Natalie and Brooke, the two main characters of Anything to Have You are pretty unlikable. Unlike most YA main characters, they’re popular. They party. They’re hot and they know it. Life comes easy to them. They speak using terms of slut-shaming and call each other “b^&^” as an endearment. I know a lot of bookish people really hate this sort of stuff, but I’ve had good friends who had some of these qualities and was able to appreciate the realism of a lot of what Harbison did.
Additionally, the fact that Brooke reminded me of the Brooke from One Tree Hill really proved a boon. Though she starts out the kind of person you hate, there’s room for growth, some of which you get to see come to fruition. Ultimately, I like that the boy drama between Natalie and Brooke, the fight over Aiden, is more about their friendship than about him.
Along the way, the messages are a bit questionable and I was worried about where the book was headed, but, ultimately, I think Harbison managed to handle a number of tough subjects in a pretty even-handed way. Alcoholism, drug use, infidelity, and other such issues are covered in this slim novel, and I don’t think Harbison upholds them as ideals but she also doesn’t outright condemn the characters for ever making a bad choice.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Harbison’s handling of the subject matter isn’t entirely perfect, with the ending coming a bit too smoothly, I think, but I do appreciate what she was trying to do. Anything to Have You will not work for a lot of readers. The way that Natalie and Brooke interact will be a dealbreaker for many, as will issues like infidelity. However, for me, though Anything to Have You is full of subjects that traditionally are huge turn-offs for me as a reader, I did quite like reading it.
I do feel like the book might have been stronger without being written from both points of view. Brooke’s POV didn’t add a whole lot for me and I thought the two voices sounded far too similar. There was also some unneeded repetition when the two girls were in the same scene.
The Final Verdict:
Anything to Have You is maybe what would happen if you had Courtney Summers write the script for One Tree Hill. That’s not going to work for everyone, but it’s fun if you can give the book time and an open mind. Certainly, if like me, you’ve enjoyed Harbison’s work in the past, I think you might like this one as well.